Cole Mouzon exists to the outside world as a successful lawyer, loyal son and brother – all unaware of his private turmoil and the mental wall that holds him together. But, during a visit back home to Charleston, he receives a call from the FBI that a stranger has been found poisoned and mutilated. What Cole learns next threatens to bring down the wall and expose him to the sharp emotions behind it when he is told that there is more to his childhood nightmares than just dark places. Betrayed by his memory, the clue to his past and his ultimate survival rests in a stranger, Cash Calhoun, a man he has never met but has been tied to his entire life. Together, they embark on a hunt to find the truth held in the dark shadows of Cole’s mind and the marshy landscape of the Holy City before a hunter from Cole’s past destroys their newly discovered bond and their lives.
Steeped in southern drawl and suspense, THE TREES BEYOND THE GRASS, the first in the Cole Mouzon thriller series, is a riveting story about the amazing, but sometimes destructive, power of our minds to protect us from the evils of life, while undermining our ability to discover true happiness.
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This story is deeply rooted in the south with backdrops from Denver to Atlanta to South Carolina. Mystery, intrigue and suspense will grab you from the start and hold your attention throughout as you travel with Cole from his home in Denver to where he grew up in Charleston. The bits and pieces of scenery and history in this book all but become a secondary character, they are so detailed and precise.
Cole Mouzon is an accomplished attorney in Denver who is headed back home to visit his family and childhood friend, Ann. He is completely unaware that a serial killer has him in her sights until his sister calls him frantic after an FBI agent contacts her trying to find Cole. This only adds to his recent stress brought on by a resurgence of a recurring nightmare he thought was long since gone. As the story progresses the reader is slowly given more details about Cole’s past that even he wasn’t aware of, and his connection to the killer that stalks him.
Poinsett is sick, twisted and demented. She will stop at nothing to make the people she believes responsible for ruining her life pay, with theirs. Her murderous rampage spans over several years and state lines with meticulous preparation, always followed with the painful delivery. Her depravity knows no bounds, and Reeves description of what’s going on in this woman’s mind while she’s stalking Cole sent chills down my spine. I’m very much reminded of Charlize Theron in Monster.
This book was emotional and intense. Strong secondary characters like Cole’s sister the cop and the alcoholic FBI agent who is still grieving over the death of his wife round out this suspenseful story. I especially liked Cash Calhoun. The professor that Cole shares a past with that neither of them even realized they shared. A past that will shape and mold the possibility of a future, if they make it out of the marsh alive.
The story leaned toward the over descriptive a couple of times, but it was always gripping, I was always intrigued, so the latter was easily overlooked. I wanted something more to develop in this installment with Cole and Cash, but that budding romance is definitely there, biding its time. I cannot wait until the next book in this series.
No naughty bits this time around. Cole and Cash are positively gay and attracted to one another, but they don’t have any adult time yet. The ending hints toward Reeves exploring their relationship further with the next book, and I’m excited to see where he takes them. Anyone that likes murder mysteries and suspense stories will want to read this book.
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Guest Post with author Robert Reeves. Behind the scenes of 'The Trees Beyond the Grass'
Fact ~versus~ Fiction.........
Whether you have already read “The Trees Beyond the Grass”, or “The Trees” as I call it, or are considering it, you are probably like me and want to know whether the story being told has any basis in fact. Well, The Trees has a lot of fact to it; I would say sixty-percent of the book is real.
Central to the plot of “The Trees” is a nightmare that hunts the main character, Cole Mouzon. That dream is real, having hunted me as a child growing up in a suburb of Charleston, SC. Having an overactive imagination, I started making a story around the dream before it disappeared and continued. I continued to develop the story since then. By college, I titled the dream/story, “The Trees Beyond the Grass.” When I began writing the book, a lot of the plot changed to be more realistic, but the basic theme is still there.
So what is fact and what is fiction in the story? Well, all the locations, even those just slightly mentioned are real. You will read about locations called “the Moon,” “Ten Mile,” and others which are local spots that existed at the time I was growing-up in Mt. Pleasant, SC, a suburb of Charleston. Many have disappeared as Charleston has become ever more popular and the area has been developed. Similarly, all the facts and history are real. As you will see, I enjoy books where you learn while you are entertained. So, I tend to write that way. You’ll hear about Blackbeard the Pirate, the impacts of slavery, and local serial killers.
As for the characters, most are all fiction, with strong roots in people in my life. The truest to fact character is MeMe, who is based on my childhood babysitter, NaNa. The person described and where she lived is all true. There is also an Ann and Granny in my life. The other characters are formed from certain characteristics of friends and family meshed together to form interesting supporting characters.
If you have read the book already, or by the time you finish it, you will likely ask, “But, what about Cole and Cash?” Well, Cash is totally fictional, derived from fantasy and some great experiences equally. As for Cole, he is eighty percent me, twenty percent fiction. His emotional stability, his pain is something I have felt in my life but certainly don’t feel today. So, it was natural to use those sharp emotions to create an interesting character. The remainder, his mannerisms, day-to-day life, desires, and the way his mind works information are all real. Oh, and Mouzon is a family, too.
Of course, what is total fiction is the serial killer aspect of the story. I am not being hunted by a killer, yet. The knowledge and understanding of a killer’s workings and the FBI were developed either from my time as a criminal defense attorney representing those accused of murder, or from research. The juicy parts are mostly real. I’ve seen ample dead bodies and had to litigate the science around solving a murder.
This mixing of fact and fiction will continue in “When Aspens Quake,” the second book in the series due out in March/April of next year. But, the story will shift location to Denver and Atlanta – both places I have lived. So expect a lot of treatment of real local facts and characters as was done in “The Trees.” In all, I hope you enjoy the books and characters as much as I enjoy writing them.
A huge thanks to author Robert Reeves for taking time to visit with us today, and share some of the background for Trees! Until next time..........
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